Monthly Archives: January 2010

Thursday. Friday.

Unpacking forgotten, I spent a lot of yesterday sitting on the window seat in the upstairs bedroom, watching. The birds, the wind rustling in the trees of the garden and woodland beyond. The stream, rushing purposefully through the garden and under the road, the ducks floating on the part which opens up into a pond further down hill.

Turning round and looking the other way I can see woodland, forest even, stretching steeply uphill to the moorland beyond. Birds of prey circle above the treeline, bringing to mind the Enchanted Forest.

The weather changes faster here, or perhaps it is only that I notice it more. The days are growing ever longer. Sunshine just touches the top of the house today, when it didn’t on Tuesday. It was light until 5.20pm. The clouds scud over faster; a hail storm batters the windows furiously for 5 or so minutes. And then as fast as it arrives it is gone. And the birds come back out and peace is restored.

Husband returns from London tonight. It is the first time since his trip to Burgundy last October that we have been separated like this since we were married. I scurry round, trying to finish the unpacking. A joke, of course, it isn’t done, far from it. I have surprised myself this week. Enjoyed my peace and quiet. Spent far too much time doing absolutely nothing. Went out for lunch today. Chatted to old ladies who remembered my name. Drank coffee in the sunshine. Chose library books. Bought a bird feeder. And now, washing. Clothes. And then a bath. And then, finally, collecting my husband.

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Wednesday

I think I am getting used to the cottage. Obviously broadband (and therefore Spotify) helps. I cooked my third meal of the week on the Rayburn tonight and it was distinctly better than the previous two. I could even identify the ingredients such was my success at not charring.

I have unearthed the sofa. And cleared a path to it through the boxes. I have even been successful at lighting my first fire and am sat peacefully on the (buttery soft mid brown) leather sofa by it, writing this. Smug, much? I don’t mean to be. It’s just the first time I’ve been warm all week.

Went for a walk earlier. Up the back lane and followed the road/bridle path up the side of the river, past all the hunting lodges. I had thought I might walk right to the head of the valley but I got distracted by a beautiful heron gliding above the river, looking for fishes. His enormous wing span was intimidating but he clearly found me more so: with a beady stare he flapped off back the way he’d come. And so I went home. And sat on the window seat watching the dogs waiting for their owners to chat, long fur waving in the increasing wind, behaving much like four year olds wanting their parents’ attention. The glove stealing was particularly amusing.

I have also been continuing my research regarding moving from London to Somerset and my latest identification of ‘neighbour’ is Pearl Lowe. I feel our reasons for leaving the big smoke are somewhat different but, for what it’s worth, here is her advice:

A rock chick’s rural guide: Pearl Lowe’s tips for moving to the country (from here)

Don’t keep running back to town every chance you get. There’s a real change of pace and you need to embrace that. It won’t happen if you keep one foot in city life, so don’t be tempted.

Bin your heels Flat shoes and wellies (or in my case Uggs) are a must.

Be friendly and open-minded. Having kids is great as you meet other parents from school.

Get a dog Everyone has one in the country. It’s a way of life. Taking your pet for walks helps you to appreciate your surroundings.

Don’t compare your life with anyone else’s A move far from home provides a perfect chance for a fresh start.

Shopping isn’t all about Bond Street Country towns and villages can be a discerning shopper’s paradise with some fabulous artisan boutiques just waiting to be discovered. I love the Cheese Shop on Cheap St, Frome, and go to La Belle Etoffe, 37 Rossiters Road, for the most amazing furniture. I visit Dores & Rees auction house every other week looking for furniture and for linen I head to Suzannah’s in Bath.

We Swim at Babington House and for tea I like visiting the beautiful Charlton House near Bath. Other places to note are Mulberry’s outlet factory in Shepton Mallet and Well’s Trading Post, which is housed in an 11th century mill and is incredible for trinkets and unusual Native American finds. Better still, the stock changes every week.

I am not sure I will be joining her swimming at Babington House (much as I would like to) but one day I will persuade Husband to visit the Mulberry factory shop. Actually, what I am saying. I have a car. I could go tomorrow. Probably best to wait until I have been paid though.

{Image, woods and river behind our cottage, me}

Tuesday

It is quiet here. Very quiet.

If I stand outside my front door late at night the only things I can hear are running water (from the stream in the garden) and owls hooting. As we drove the van up to our house on Sunday night we found a red deer on the road, just standing and looking. When he saw our lights he turned and ran up the road, disappearing up a bridle path into the woodland.

The house is so full of boxes that Alex, my almost brother-in-law, suggested I should build a fort. I would but there is no space to re-arrange them. I had to climb over them to reach the phone. I am doing things I haven’t done in years. Use a landline. Cook my own supper. Joined a library.

I didn’t have any ID with me so I was only allowed one book. It is closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays but if I go back with ID on Friday I can take out 20 items for up to 3 weeks. I had forgotten the pleasure in choosing library books. After some deliberation I decided on a local author’s journal of a year living on Exmoor. The librarian told me that my village has a ‘stitch and bitch‘ group. She directed me to the ladieswear shop. Aimed at women at least 20 years older than me but the proprietor was friendly. There was a second room filled with haberdashery. Between that shop and the hardware shop, which was a treasure trove of goodies and I could have spent hours in there, I may not need to miss London too much. But I am not thinking about that.

It is dark again now. In London I didn’t really notice when it went dark. Not here. Dusk starts at about 4.30pm and it is properly dark by 5.15pm. I bought some tea lights to make the house cosier. I would light a fire. But I would have to burn my boxes as there is no space to reach the fireplace. And so the unpacking commences. Once I have cooked my supper*.

*This takes longer at the moment because I haven’t quite got the hang of cooking on the Rayburn yet.

The Monday after the Sunday

Plugged my ethernet cable into the box by the phone line on the off chance it would work. It did. But I am exhausted so no long post from me, just a quick update.

We had to do 2 trips. We had too much furniture to get into the van so we came back. Sunday we drove for 10 hours to spend 5 hours loading furniture in the pissing rain and then cleaning*.  We got back to Exmoor at 4.30am. We listened to cassette tapes all the way home to stay awake. Pixies. Oasis. Blur. All the originals.

Today I drove the car. Then Husband left for London. I cried. Then I located the music and cooked supper.

We are never moving again.

*Amazing friends cleaned the oven and the bathroom and helped pack a million boxes of kitchen things on Friday. Yet 3 years worth of dust etc takes a surprisingly long time to remove.

Proper post to follow. Am exhausted. So exhausted I think I have said it twice. Bath. Tea. Bed.

See you in Somerset

It has all gone quiet here because I am packing. Packing is the most boring, hateful task ever. Especially when packing up a house of 2 people who could never be called minimalist and who merged 2 flats 4 years ago and then got married and bought china for 120. And were given wedding presents. I have not written much this week as I find it so boring that I could fall over to think about it/get on with it, so I reserved my moaning for twitter and this paragraph.

We move tomorrow. I will keep this brief.

Virgin don’t do cable in Somerset. I shouldn’t have been surprised. If the property is not served with mains gas then fibre optic cable might be too much to ask. Turns out it was. We return to a ADSL connection. Which seems to be one better than it used to be, when I last used it. (I asked whether you can use the landline at the same time – we haven’t had one of those in 4 years either. He laughed.)  Despite the fact that the line is already present and no-one has to come and ‘connect’ you (they just switch it on) for some reason we cannot be connected until the 3rd February. Much like estate agents haven’t heard of scanners I suppose.

So, the upshot is, unless I can get over my fear of driving (and of car insurance organisation) things will go quiet round here for a bit. Or, more hopefully, I manage to work out the buses and so forth, so I am aiming to do some “work” in the cafe by my new office which has wifi. And by work I of course mean blogging.

My blackberry will still work. If it has signal. So I can still tweet and read e-mails*, if you are so inclined. {I will be on my own for an entire week}.

See you in Somerset…

* to rachelprimrosehill (at) gmail (dot) com.

On missing London

One of the only upsides to leaving town is that I have managed to see (and speak to) so many friends in the past week or so. During one conversation on Sunday I was asked “what you will miss the most about London”: good question. I know I will miss *London* but is that only because it is my familiar?

I know I will miss:

. my friends. or, more specifically, impromptu drinks after work; cosy suppers at both our house and friends/restaurants; those nights which just work because there is no pressure or event. Of course I will see and speak to everyone, it is just going to be different.

. materialistic I know, but, shopping. i know online shopping can and will net me the same goods but sometimes nothing beats going into a shop and receiving the goods. also useful for those last minute situations when you need whatever it is right now.

. working in the vintage shop. I love that gig and am so sad to have to give it up.

. choice. any kind of restaurant you like. any kind of club, entertainment, cinema, theatre, pub. supper at 12.30am in a proper restaurant. coffee at 6pm on a Sunday. museums, art galleries, the ballet.

. buses that run through the night. the welcome amber glow of an empty taxi.

. eating supper with Husband. sleeping in the same bed every night of the week.

. inspiring architecture. the view from waterloo bridge.

. if wanted, a sense of anonymity. or not. comes back down to choice i suppose.

. popping out for milk at 11pm.

. cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery.

. mobile phone signal.

Yet I really won’t miss:

. rush hour on the tube.

. no-one ever having the time to stop and stare.

. everyone wearing black coats.

. (yuck factor alert) blackness coming out of my nose when I blow it.

. realising that one season has passed into another and I have barely registered it.

. not knowing anyone on my street apart from my nearest neighbours.

. queuing to get out of the tube station before an Arsenal game (when all I want to do it go home for supper)

. noise. it never fully being dark. the backdrop of sirens. living under the City airport flight path.

. the foxes mating in the back garden. {although no doubt the countryside will have it’s fair share of noisy animals…}

In other news, packing continues so slowly it’s hard to see progress. Growing fond of freecycle and the things people rescue to keep out of landfill.

pmt and a splitting headache by the way. makes it hard to do anything else than see the negatives…

In which we have one week left

Further research today reveals that other ‘famous’ neighbours in Exmoor will include Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Rachel Johnson (during school holidays at least). It also reveals that wearing Hunter wellies will mark me out as *from the town* and that I must not write about the lack of parmesan in the local village for fear of excommunication. I suspect that other things will mark me out as “not local” aside from my (aubergine) Hunter wellies, not least the fact that I really do not sound like I was born or grew up in West Somerset.

Still, for the time being, there are bigger things to worry about. Like paying the estate agents, who claim that they cannot receive money by online transfer as they will not know whether it is received until they receive their next statement. Or how we will make it to Somerset by 1pm next Saturday afternoon (when London is 4 hours drive away and we have an entire flat to load into a van/clean) so that we can pick up the keys to the flat, as that is when their office closes.

That and the fact that we have received information that our friends might be throwing us a surprise party next week. Only trouble is that the invitation to me was so low key I thought it was one drink with a couple of friends and didn’t mention it to Husband, who has a work dinner the same evening and so won’t be able to attend.